Book day

My Dear Wife is in the last semester of her Master’s program at UWM. This means that she has an unreasonable amount of

Any day that ends with a big stack of new books is a good day.

schoolwork to do. She’s also decided that now would be a good time to increase the level of volunteerism from a damn-lot to a friggin-lot. Then there is this freelance job we are tag-teaming. The bottom line is that in order to get all of the things done that she is obliged to do, she needed some uninterrupted, at home, fsck-off-and-work time. My solution: Book Day. Essentially, Book Day is a day where the kids and I leave the house as soon as breakfast is finished, and come home when the street lights come on. During the hours in between, we do a bunch of book related things. Ta-da! Book Day.

Primary Phase: MPL 13

The East Library was my library when I was a kid. When I say that it was my library, I mean that when I was a kid, I spent a lot of time there. When I skipped school in High School, I ended up there more often than is normal… or probably healthy. I had my first taste of flirting with a girl named “Cara” (who also gave me my first, and AFAIK only, fake phone number). This is the where “someone” left a little vial of ammonium sulfide in the breezeway, just to mess with people. This is also the place where I checked out a book on Unix 12 years ago, and never brought it back. Yup… 12 years. The entire Harry Potter series was written, published, and made into movies in the time it took me to finally get back to that library, but on Book Day, I did it. I paid for the book. I can again walk into any Milwaukee County library, including my beloved, if smelly, East (13), and borrow a book, tape, album, CD, DVD, or MP3 player. You could only get the first three of those the last time I checked out a book.

Secondary Phase: Book Graveyard

Leaving the East, we headed over to what used to be one of my favorite book stores, but is now closed and for rent. Where the Schwartz’s on Oakland used to be, we found some sort of used book sale/fund raiser. Basically, it was 30 folding tables piled with used books with only the slightest attempt at organization. Surveying the scene, I knew there was nothing for it but to look through the whole place. I set the kids loose in the small books and set to it. This was definitely a worthwhile stop. I got a handful of shop books, and Dillon discovered three Redwall books he was not even aware of! Once we had more books than we could easily carry, I figured we’d better be off.

Tertiary Phase: The Mall Bastards

Next stop: Bayshore Towne Center. I don’t love this place, with it’s fiberglass rocks and pretend neighborhood, it always creeps me out a little. Our destination here was the Barnes & Noble. We headed straight for the second floor, and spent some time in the kids books section. I wandered off to look for metalworking books (slim selection here) and came back to find that Dillon had finished the book he’d intended to buy, and Rose was off talking to strangers. That girl cannot see kids having fun without needing to join in. Dillon picked out a different book, and we headed out by way of the stationary section. I’ve been on the lookout for some nice writing paper, but was disappointed by the flowery thank you notes and invitations that B&N offered.

Quaternary Phase: The Other Library

Figuring I’d already have to explain the amount of money we’d spent (the library book being a good portion of it), I decided we’d better catch our breath our neighborhood library. The North Shore library is a respectable, small, suburban library, and this was my first real trip into the stacks. Good, but not great. If I want anything specific, I’ll almost certainly have to request it.

Rosie found more little kids to goof around with, and Dillon worked his way through a handful of age-appropriate manga before I realized that we hadn’t eaten since breakfast. We gathered up our selections (Molly and Rose had a long drive to a gymnastics meet the next day, and had requested a book-on-CD) and headed to the counter. Dillon checked out his books, and I stepped up to the counter after him with my shiny new library card. The girl behind the counter did her thing and we were off again. It was actually a little anticlimactic.

Quintessential Phase: Moto Mag

Not quite ready to go home, we popped over to the Borders, planning to get a snack and maybe start in on our new books. We didn’t make it 10 feet before we had more books added to our day’s haul. I found a Cafe Racer magazine, Rose found a book she just had to have, and Dillon selected the 1st of the Guardians of Ga’hoole books. Dillon is sort of a sucker for these books series… like his mom and dad I suppose.

We bought the last books we’d buy that day and headed downstairs to the little coffee shop. The kids sat down and started in on their books while I ordered muffins, croissants, scones, juice, and coffee (black for me, decaf latte for Rose). I joined the kids with out food, and realized that even though I made a point of bringing the camera along on our adventure, I hadn’t taken a single picture. I snapped a few in the cafe, and we spent a hour or so just hanging in the coffee shop.

We got home just as it was getting dark, and Molly was working on dinner, her home work mostly complete. This was an awesome day. I sorta like these kids, and I really dig the fact that a day spent entirely focused on books and reading is a good day for everyone involved…

Molly (as we walk in the door): So, how was Book Day?

Rose: Great.

Dillon: Great. What’s for dinner?

It’s just a doodle


A few weeks ago, following what I am sure was a long and tiring day, I came home from work, as is my habit. I greeted my wife, my children, and my dogs, put down my keys and generally just caught my breath. No sooner had my keys hit the table than my boy came up wanting to show me what he’d been working on. The first was a fairly impressive, and functioning, motorized lego sled, complete with skis. Nice.

As we sat on the floor of the room discussing the few issues with his design, I noticed a small stack of bricks and gears sitting on his unreasonably messy desk:

Me: Hey, man, what’s that?
D: What? Oh. that’s just my water wheel.
Me: Why do you call it a water wheel?
D: I dunno. It just reminded me of one.
Me (giving the gears a spin): That’s really cool!
D (dismissively):
Yeah. I was just doodling.

What impressed me was not just that he’d essentially built a lego gear box completely on his own, or that it has a perfect 2:1 ratio, but that he referred to its construction as “doodling.”

I dig this kid.

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